UK

Rape anonymity for men pledge is abandoned by ministers

The figure of Lady Justice on the dome of the Old Bailey in London
Image caption The proposal would have allowed people accused of rape to remain anonymous until conviction

The government has confirmed it is to abandon its pledge to grant anonymity to men charged with rape in England and Wales.

Justice Minister Crispin Blunt said there was not sufficient evidence to justify the move.

The proposal was included in the coalition agreement in May, but it emerged in July that ministers would not seek a change in the law.

The decision to scrap the idea followed criticism from women's groups.

Mr Blunt said the coalition made clear it would only proceed with defendant anonymity in rape cases if the evidence justifying it was "clear and sound".

"In the absence of any such finding it has reached the conclusion that the proposal does not stand on its merits," he said.

"Evidence is lacking in a number of key areas. In particular, whether the inability to publicise a person's identity will prevent further witnesses to a known offence from coming forward, or further unknown offences by the same person from coming to light."

Mr Blunt added: "The government's commitment to give anonymity to teachers accused by pupils, and take other measures to protect against false accusations, is separate.

"We will announce the outcome of that work, which is being led by the Department for Education, in due course."

Under the law, there are no restrictions on naming defendants who are over 18 years old. Victims of rape are granted anonymity for life.

The government's proposal would have allowed people accused of rape to remain anonymous until conviction.

The 1976 Labour government introduced anonymity for defendants - only for the measure to be repealed 12 years later under the Conservatives.

A review of the law earlier this year warned there needed to be a proper examination of the wider issues.

There is no anonymity for defendants in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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